SEIU and Other Union News

Snoqualmie Valley educational professionals make some noise

Snoqualmie Valley educational professionals are not being subtle in letting their school district know they are seeking an equitable and respectful contract.

In two days time, Snoqualmie education professionals organized two demonstrations: one at the school board meeting Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 and at the district headquarters before the Snoqualmie steering committee went in to bargain a new contract Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.

Over 30 classified employees marched into the boardroom and made their voices heard Thursday evening.

Sno Valley

Half the crew that showed up before the school board meeting.

“It was awesome,” kitchen manager Kathy Ryan said. “There was standing room only.”

Additionally, the group was allowed to speak and share their stories to the board.

To hear the whole board meeting follow this link to the Snoqualmie Valley school board website where you’ll be able to download a podcast of the meeting.

Then Friday, about 20 classified staff professionals showed up before bargaining began.

Education professionals all donned PSE blue shirts to show solidarity at each event.

Education support professionals plan on making another appearance at the next school board meeting Oct. 10, 2013 at 6:30.

“We hope you join us,” Ryan said.

The pre bargaining crew.

The pre bargaining crew.

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Service Employees International Union

In 2005, Public School Employees of Washington members voted to affiliate with Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

With 1 million members who are public service workers, including school employees across the nation and a total of 2.1 million members, SEIU is one of the largest and is the fastest growing unions in the country. By uniting the strength of workers who do similar types of work, SEIU works to increase funding to improve the quality of public services and help public service workers win better wages and benefits.

SEIU is strongly committed to growth of its membership as the key to achieving its broader mission to improve the lives of working people and their families. SEIU is the fastest growing union, and was among the first to organize public employees. SEIU is committed to the principle of organizing workers and servicing its members through supporting the efforts of its locals, and has a long maintained a tradition of local autonomy — which recognizes and respects the right of its locals to direct their own organization.

To visit the SEIU website, click here.

SEIU local unions in Washington:

Local 925
SEIU Local 925 has 23,000 public school, early learning, university, and local government members. PSE has more in common with Local 925 than other SEIU locals and we work together frequently in Olympia and in some school districts.

Local 775
SEIU Local 775 30,000 long-term care workers, including individual provider homecare workers, private sector homecare workers and nursing home workers around the state.

Local 1199NW
SEIU Local 1199NW had 20,000 nurses, hospital, clinic and mental health workers throughout the state.

Local 49
SEIU Local 49 represents more than 7,000 property services and healthcare workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Local 6
SEIU Local 6 represents 2,800 property services workers including janitors and security officers in the Puget Sound region.

Local 519
SEIU Local 519 represents more than 500 employees from a wide spectrum of public safety fields in King County.
At a time when many other national unions are losing members, SEIU is aggressively organizing, largely in the fast-growing service industries.

Click here to visit the SEIU Constitution & Bylaws website.


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Have You Seen the Video that’s Creating a Serious Headache for McDonald’s?

McDonald’s executives made a major misstep when the company posted an online tool aimed McD's budget2at teaching employees how to manage their money. Among many laughable pieces of the so-called budgeting tool is the indirect recommendation that employees get a second job. That’s right. McDonald’s knows employees can’t make ends meet working full-time on minimum wage. But instead of thinking about how to make employees’ lives better, the company essentially advises they get second jobs.
The site’s “ideal” budget is absurd. It doesn’t include basic needs such as child care or food. It projects that health insurance will cost just $20 per month. And after assuming that workers will need to get a second job, it pencils in a monthly income that workers could only earn if they made $15 per hour before taxes. 
As financial journalist Dan Gross wrote in the Daily Beast: “People who live on chronically low incomesMcD's budget know all about budgeting. And the best way to improve employees’ financial standing doesn’t require the construction of a Web-based tool. Employers just have to pay them a little more.”
  • More than 86,000 people have watched the video on Youtube. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it here.
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Sunnyside school employee attends immigration reform confab in Chicago

Victor Ochoa said he never really thought much about immigration reform before being picked as one of four representatives from Washington state to go to the SEIU International Latino Caucus in Chicago at the end of May.

Nor does he have the same notion of immigration after going to the conference as he did before he went.

“I got to meet with a variety of people,” said the Sunnyside man. “Arabian member, people from Africa, Peru, Ecuador, Canada and Mexico. It was exciting: the variety of cultures and how many different people were represented.”

Latino ConHe talked about a speaker who asked the audience what they thought of when they heard the words “immigration reform.” The first person to answer said that, as an American, he thought of Mexican immigrants and the southern border.

But that wasn’t the answer the speaker was looking for. She asked again, and another convention-goer suggested that everyone is an immigrant if you go back far enough. Ochoa said he realized that only those who are of Native American descent aren’t immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.

Ochoa said he felt welcomed by the caucus, made up of about 200 delegates from around the country. The caucus was the second of its kind, and the movement is growing.

As a result of their experiences, those in the Washington state delegation hope to create a statewide caucus to help bring together ideas on sensible reform. Ochoa said the Public School Employees Union will be a good place to start, with about 10,500 members in the state.

Ochoa, employed by the Sunnyside School District, argues that the country’s borders need to be secure, but the immigration system in place now needs to be fixed or replaced. The current system holds people in poverty and doesn’t’ protect the vulnerable, he said. Ochoa can cite cases of women who endure criminal abuse.

“They are afraid they will be deported,” he said. “And they are right. We deport the hard workers and keep the criminals who abuse them.”

Ochoa said that realizing we all come from somewhere else can bring us closer on the issues.

“In recognizing that we are all a product of immigration,” Ochoa said, “we can then realize a fundamental truth of common past and brotherhood.”

All of us have more in common than different, Ochoa said, and understanding that will allow us to think of the problem as one of human rights.

“People who live in fear of the government tend to live in poverty,” he said. “Immigration reform will give immigrant equal opportunity to rise above poverty.”

Ochoa said the problem isn’t one the country can afford to ignore.

“Think of it as advancing people who will always live in America,” he said. “It also will keep families together, and a united and loving family tends to accomplish more than one who is not. Immigration reform will be a benefit for all.”


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Oregon Workers, Coalition Celebrate Retirement Security Victory

SEIUpyOregon state lawmakers on Sunday (July 7) passed a bill to create a task force to study ways to expand retirement savings options for private sector workers. The bill now goes to Governor John Kitzhaber’s desk for approval. 

The SEIU Retirement Security Campaign credits the success of the bill, which faced strong opposition from the financial industry, to the efforts of the Retirement in Reach coalition made up of Oregon labor groups, retirement security advocates, lawmakers and workers.

SEIU Local 503, which represents Oregon state employees, university workers, care providers, local government, and non-profit employees, is a member of the Coalition.

The Retirement in Reach coalition agreed with SEIU’s Retirement Security Campaign: too many people, after decades of hard work, cannot retire with dignity. The system must be fixed.

Read a news report here.

Click here for more information on HB 3436C.

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SEIU: Who We Are in Washington

SEIU represents over 100,000 workers in health care, public services, and property services throughout Washington State. Our locals are organized along the following industry lines to focus and consolidate our members’ power.

Education & Public Service

Public School Employees of WA/SEIU Local 1948: Represents over 27,000 educational support professionals in 178 school districts, Central Washington University, Western Washington University and Eastern Washington University. Offices in Auburn, Vancouver, Spokane, Olympia and Kennewick.

President: Kim Wilson; Executive Director: George Dockins


SEIU Local 925: Unites over 23,000 education and public service workers including famil

y childcare providers, University of Washington employees, K-12 staff in 25 school districts, and local government and non-profit employees. Offices in Seattle, Everett, Bellingham, Vancouver, Bremerton, Spokane and Kennewick.

President: Karen Hart


Health Care

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW: Represents 22,000 nurses, healthcare workers, state employees, and mental health workers in private and public sector hospitals including Harborview, and state agencies including DSHS and DOH, and agencies statewide. Offices in Renton, Tacoma, Spokane and Yakima.

President: Diane Sosne, RN, MN


Long-Term Care

SEIU Healthcare 775NW: Represents over 42,000 long-term care workers, including individual provider homecare workers, private sector homecare and adult day health workers, and nursing home workers in Washington and Montana. HQ in Seattle, small offices in Olympia, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Bremerton, Everett, Vancouver and Helena, MT.

President: David Rolf

Property Services

SEIU Local 6: Represents over 4,200 property services workers including janitors and security officers in the Puget Sound region. Office in Seattle.

President: Sergio Salinas

Healthcare and Property Services

SEIU Local 49: Represents over 7,000 property services and healthcare workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Office in Portland, Oregon.

President: Meg Niemi

Each SEIU local union in Washington maintains its autonomy. The locals often coordinate legislative and political activities through the SEIU Washington State Council, which meets monthly.

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Five flaws should cause budget-writers to drop part-time health insurance proposal

PSE has stepped up efforts to oppose SB 5905 that would require many part-time school workers and some higher education employees to get their health insurance through the new state Health Insurance Exchange instead of through their School District or through the Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB).

Many health insurance changes are coming as a result of the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. K-12 and higher education employees could be eligible for subsidized coverage through the newly-created state health insurance exchange or completely covered under an expansion of the federal Medicaid program.  (more…)

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Evergreen State College workers strike over compensation, due process

Nearly 60 higher education exempt employees at The Evergreen State College in Olympia went on strike yesterday (May 28) to protest the lack of a contract agreement with the university administration.

The Student Support Services Staff Union, which represents counselors, advisors, resident directors and other student support employees at The Evergreen State College (TESC) campus in Olympia, voted May 15 to authorize a strike after efforts with a state mediator failed to reach a resolution.

The workers are striking over process for disciplinary actions: just cause and compensation. Bargaining on their first contract started 16 months ago. The TESC Student Support Services Staff are non-management exempt staff who won collective bargaining rights under 2007 legislation.


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Tacoma News Tribune: PLU fights effort to form contingent faculty union

John Gillie
Staff Writer | Tacoma News Tribune

In a case that could set a national precedent, Pacific Lutheran University is taking legal steps this week to block the formation of a union to represent contingent faculty members at the Parkland university.

The university, which has held occasional conversations for months with representatives of those temporary faculty members, has filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board to an election that would determine whether the Service Employees International Union will represent 176 contingent faculty members in negotiations concerning wages, benefits and working conditions.

The SEIU says it already represents about 15,000 of those nontenure-track employees at universities on the East Coast and in California. PLU is the first university in the Northwest at which contingent faculty members are asking to decide whether the union will represent them. The union has brought an organizer from the East to help with the union efforts at PLU.
Read the entire news story here.
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How Unions Are Getting Their Groove Back

In a recent article, the Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson profiled new and unique organizing initiatives, including the Fast Food Forward campaign, in the American Prospect.  “[Wednesday] was a red-letter day in the annals of worker mobilization in post-collective bargaining America,” wrote Meyerson, “In Chicago, hundreds of fast-food and retail employees who work in the Loop and along the Magnificent Mile called a one-day strike and demonstrated for a raise to $15 an hour and thfightfor15e right to form a union.

“SEIU is one of several major unions shifting their focus to actions that publicize the economic and social costs of ever-growing low-wage employment,” Meyerson wrote.

Read the entire piece from the American Prospect.

Click here to sign the petition in support of the workers’ efforts.

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